Hail to Kale from Fall to Spring and Every Month In Between
My first introduction to kale occurred when as a caterer in the 80’s we used it as a sturdy and colorful garnish for some of our buffet platters. We also threw it away at the end of each event, because in those days no one we knew actually ate kale. Times have changed. Kale and chard and spinach are now shopping-list regulars.
It’s easy to grow kale. Otherwise purchase it organically grown to avoid potentially high levels of pesticide residue. Kale comes in colors from violet to purple to green and white, and in varieties such as curly, Russian and ornamental. You may have seen Italian recipes calling for cavolo nero. These beautiful words refer to the “embossed” leaf heirloom variety known in the U.S. as dinosaur, black, Tuscan or Lacinato kale.
Whichever variety you choose for Crispy Kale Chips, look for fresh, unwilted, smaller-sized leaves for both milder flavor and tenderness. Try younger kale thinly sliced as a salad green. For the tastiest cooked kale, gently steam, simmer or braise it until thoroughly tender. Kale is available all year, with a light frost during the colder months giving it a sweeter taste.
An excellent source of beta carotene and vitamin C, kale supports our immune system fight off colds and flu. High in fiber, calcium and vitamin E, all of kale’s nutrients also help slow the loss of mental decline. One researcher quipped that if you can remember to eat kale and other leafy greens, you’ll be more likely to remember other things as well. 😉
Try these Crispy Kale Chips, especially if you have rejected kale in the past. The bit of balsamic vinegar adds a tiny bit of sweetness and the slow oven and long baking time transforms kale into something almost impossibly light and flavorful and crisp and so tasty that even kids like it! And with the holiday season almost here, Kale Chips are both a healthy and delicious party food.
Yield: 6 – 8 cups, depending upon the variety
1 bunch kale (any variety), washed, dried and stemmed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Sea salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 225 degrees.
Remove the stems and tear or cut the kale into approximately 2-inch pieces. You should have about 8 cups of medium-packed kale. Put the kale into a large bowl and toss it with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar until the leaves are evenly coated. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper. Place the kale in a single layer on each of the two pans. Sprinkle the kale lightly with sea salt. Bake the kale until it is very dry and crisp, about 1 hour, rotating the pans after 30 minutes.
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